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Match Previews

🔎 Opposition: Bradford City (A)

Jed Penberthy gives us the lowdown on the Bantams

11 November 2020

Exeter will be hoping to stretch the unbeaten run to 12, as league action returns with a trip to West Yorkshire.

Here’s an outlook of our hosts from Bradford City…

  • Founded: 1903
  • Nicknames: The Bantams
  • Honours: FA Cup (1911), Division 2 (1907/08), Division 3 (1928/29, 1984/85)
  • Home Kit: AVEC SPORT Claret shirt with amber stripes, black shorts and black socks.
  • Away Kit: AVEC SPORT Navy blue shirts with red stripes, blue shorts with red trim, blue socks
  • Form: LLWWL (15th in League Two)

One of the so-called ‘sleeping giants’ of the division, Bradford City were formed shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. A predominantly rugby city, in 1903 Manningham RFC- who played at Valley Parade- held an archery contest to fundraise to help with financial difficulties. During the event, the rugby club were persuaded to change disciplines and swap the handling code, for footwork instead, establishing Bradford City AFC.

Recognising this was an opportunity to spread football to the rest of the region, The FA immediately accepted the Bantams first application to join the Second Division.

The nickname Bantams resembles the clubs almost iconic shirt colour scheme, of a chicken. It’s thought that the characteristic of bantams- a breed of poultry bird- as small but fearless fighting creatures suited the self-image of the club and typified its personality.

The sixth-largest city in England, Bradford rapidly became the ‘Wool capital of the World’ during the industrial revolution. The city made use of its location in the foothills of the Pennines, to extract coal and iron to run its textile industry.

After the industry collapsed in the mid-20th Century, Bradford rebranded itself culturally. The city was the first UNESCO City of Film in 2009 and is also home to some stupendously brilliant curry houses.

Upon election to the Second Division in their fledgling years, Bradford City found themselves in Division 1 not too soon after. Peter O’Rourke guided the Bantams to the Second Division title in 1908. In 1911 Bradford won the FA Cup after beating Newcastle in a replay at Old Trafford. Jimmy Speirs scored the only goal of the game.

In 1998/99 Bradford finished second in Division One to gain promotion to the Premier League under the watchful eye of Paul Jewell. A year later they qualified for the Intertoto Cup, losing to Zenit St Petersburg in the Semi-finals.

In 2001 the Bantams were relegated and started a slow decline down the Football League. In 2013 Bradford became the first fourth tier side in 51 years to reach the League Cup final, but they were soundly beaten by Swansea City at Wembley.

Last year Bradford narrowly missed out on the play-offs on PPG.

Manager

Stuart McCall

The former Scotland international re-joined Bradford for a fourth time in February and brought a heap of experience with him. A Bantams youth player in the eighties, the 56-year-old had spells at Everton, Rangers and Sheffield United in his over 800 game playing career. He won 40 caps for Scotland, including during Euro ’96.

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In 1998 he signed again as a player for Bradford City, but took over the caretaker manager role in 2000 during the transition between Paul Jewell and Christ Hutchings. In 2002 he became player/coach at Sheffield United with Neil Warnock.

In 2007 he became Bradford manager permanently for the first time. He has since had spells in Scotland and Scunthorpe before returning to his boyhood club, after Gary Bowyer’s departure.

Stadium

Name: Utilita Energy Stadium

Capacity: 25,136

Year opened: 1886

Address: Valley Parade, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 7DY

The original home of Manningham Rugby Club, Valley Parade was opened nearly twenty years before Bradford City’s formation. Sitting just outside the City Centre, the now sponsored Utilita Energy Stadium is seen as one of the iconic British football grounds.

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The first association football game to be played at Valley Parade in 1903 was a friendly against Sheffield United’s FA Cup winning side. The match was organised to boost interest in football after the loss of its Rugby club. This worked, as 11,000 spectators watched Bradford’s first league game against Gainsborough a few months later.

In 1911, the ground hosted 39,146 fans for an FA Cup tie against Burnley during the clubs winning run, which to date makes it the longest standing attendance record in the Football League, dating back nearly 90 years.

On May 11th, 1985, Valley Parade was home to one of the worst ever disasters at a football ground. 56 people died and at least 265 others were hurt when the main stand caught fire. This led to mass safety changes in football grounds. Two stands were rebuilt much bigger and much better, now a double-tiered marvel of architecture, which serve as a poignant memorial to those lost that day.

One To Watch

Billy Clarke

The 32-year-old Irishman joined the Bantams this summer from Grimsby and has hit the ground running. He has three goals and three assists already this season, including two goals in the FA Cup last weekend against Tonbridge Angels.

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The journeyman had switched club 15 times in his 15-year career. This term at Valley Parade is his third for Bradford after spells in 2014 and 2019.

Clarke’s represented the Republic of Ireland 45 times at youth level, scoring 14 goals- but has never quite made the jump to the senior side. With a sweet left foot and a leader’s attitude- Clarke is certainly a danger to look out for.

Head to Head

There’s no real trend to encounters with Bradford City. The record is fairly even for both sides and both teams are capable of big results against the other. The sides have met five times in the 21st century with three wins for Exeter and two for Bradford.

In total, 121 goals have been shared between the two clubs, in 42 games- averaging nearly 2.8 a game. There have been five 0-0 draws

Exeter City wins: 15

Draws: 11

Bradford City wins: 16

Recent encounters

Bradford City 2-0 Exeter City, November 2nd, 2019.

Three players were sent off when goals from Aramide Oteh and James Vaughan saw Bradford prevail. Jake Taylor and Tom Parkes were given their marching orders for The Grecians and Callam Cook saw the same judicial decision from referee Michael Salisbury.

Exeter City 4-1 Bradford City, March 16th, 2013

John O’Flynn, Lawson D’Ath and Scot Bennett were on target as Exeter ran out comfortable winners against the League Cup finalists. An earlier Matt Duke own goal helped the Grecians on their way. Kyel Reid scored the consolation for the visitors.

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Bradford City 0-1 Exeter City, November 17th, 2012

Jamie Cureton rolled back the years with right footed finish on the cusp of half time, to see Exeter leave West Yorkshire with all three points.

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And Finally…

Bradford City had a dismal start to the 1983/84 campaign, winning just once in the first fifteen games. They transformed their season with a club record ten consecutive league wins, with the record being achieved in a 2-0 win over Exeter at St James Park.


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